All of a sudden Occidentalism has been hit with a whole lot of new, and angry, Korean commenters due to an article about Kenkanryu in the New York Times. The commenters turned up here because Occidentalism is the most highly ranked site for Kenkanryu on google after the publishing company itself.
The article criticises Kenkanryu by taking the text out of context and distorting the content.
A young Japanese woman in the comic book “Hating the Korean Wave” exclaims, “It’s not an exaggeration to say that Japan built the South Korea of today!” In another passage the book states that “there is nothing at all in Korean culture to be proud of.”
In fact, it is clear from reading the comic that the character means that Japan had laid the foundation of modern development in Korea, by bringing modernization, economic growth, and social reform. As for other comment, I dont remember reading that – probably because it is way out of its context. In any case, I have been looking for it, and cant find it.
But the comic book, perhaps inadvertently, also betrays Japan’s conflicted identity, its longstanding feelings of superiority toward Asia and of inferiority toward the West. The Japanese characters in the book are drawn with big eyes, blond hair and Caucasian features; the Koreans are drawn with black hair, narrow eyes and very Asian features.
Actually, not every character Japanese character is drawn with western features, so this is a huge exaggeration on the part of the author of the article. He can only get away with it because he knows that the majority will never actually see the comic. Here are four major Japanese characters from the comic in the picture below (It was as many of the major characters that I could find in a single page).
All the characters there are Japanese. Two of them could maybe be westerners, but the other two could be nothing if not oriental. Three out of four of them have black hair. I will leave final judgement on the matter to the reader.
The Korea book’s cartoonist, who is working on a sequel, has turned down interview requests. The book centers on a Japanese teenager, Kaname, who attains a “correct” understanding of Korea. It begins with a chapter on how South Korea’s soccer team supposedly cheated to advance in the 2002 Word Cup; later chapters show how Kaname realizes that South Korea owes its current success to Japanese colonialism.
The comic reproduces actual incidents from the 2002 World Cup. The author of the article distorts this presentation by simply saying the comic accuses the Korean team of cheating
The comic illustrates the violence of the Korean team; the booing of other teams by Korean fans (and use of offensive symbols, like the Nazi symbols against the Germans); and describes the movement for ‘fair judgement’ that arose from the poor refereeing. Here is a site describing the fair judgement movement. I am looking at the comic now, and I cant find anything about cheating. Plenty about bad decisions and bad sportsmanship though. Interestingly enough, in the comic the Korean character confronts a Japanese character for “bad-mouthing the Korean team”, and the Japanese character answered that he was just saying the facts. It seems like this author is taking the same tact as the Korean character.
So who is the writer of the article? Judging from his name, ‘Norimitsu Onishi’, it would seem that he is Japanese, but I have my doubts about that. I would be willing to bet that he is actually an ethnic Korean.
Norimitsu Onishi just doesnt hate Japan, he seems to hate the US too. In an article for the New York Times, he described terrorists killed by US soldiers as ‘victims‘, putting them in the same category as innocent restaurant workers killed by terrorists.
Most of the other articles he seems to write are about Korea, with a twist – when writing about Korea, he almost always brings up Japan unfavorably, like his article ‘Roll Over, Godzilla: Korea Rules‘.
In any event, it doesnt really matter if the writer of the article is anti Japanese, or a Korean, but the fact that he is quoting text out of context and misrepresenting content is unforgivable. Is this the best the New York Times has to offer its readers? A comic that is 270 pages long summed up in two out of context quotes, and one factual distortion? The New York Times motto is “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, and its readers deserve better than this.